The Namesake Review

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When an Indian family from Calcutta emigrate to the Boston the son is inspired to do everything to fit into his new community.


The move from Calcutta to New York isn’t an easy one for new bride Ashima in Mira Nair’s family saga, based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel. Her children, however, grow up to embrace Stateside life, and soon son Gogol (Kal Penn) is studying architecture and smoking pot like a good all-American boy. While the early scenes between Ashima and arranged husband Ashoke are tender and absorbing, Gogol’s experiences are rushed through apace, entertaining but rarely moving.

The performances are enjoyable and Penn proves he can handle a serious lead role. But while the film raises salient issues about the second-generation immigrant experience, it fails to explore either these or its characters thoroughly.

This Indian immigrant family saga is a pleasant watch, but given the emotive source novel, it’s surprisingly superficial.